The Morris Jeff board of directors focused on plans for a new building at their monthly meeting, March 15, and principal Patricia Perkins said she is determined to have the building ready for the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.

As part of the ongoing community engagement phase, the Recovery School District and the Verges Rome architecture firm are seeking input on where to put the building, how far it should be set back from adjacent streets and other topics. One of the few known details is that parts of the new building will be three stories high. For more on the search for a new campus, click here.

As an enhancement of the so-called Fisk-Howard site, the board is eyeing possible acquisition of a vacant lot and an unused gym across the street. The vacant lot might be used for parking and for a community garden. The Orleans Parish School Board has the authority to pursue acquisition of the lots, which are owned by the Holy Cross Brothers, but has taken no action as yet.

The additional lots would allow for more green and play space – assets in short supply at the school’s current campus on Poydras Street, said Joe Kimbrell, a Morris Jeff parent assisting with plans for the new school.  Board member Jennifer Weishaupt was tapped to contact the owners of the lots to discuss their potential sale or lease.

If OPSB remains inactive on the issue, the school would need assistance through an external agent or fundraising drive to finance the acquisitions because it will not cut into its regular budget to do so.

On other matters, Perkins reported that she has found veteran teachers with at least five years experience to fill all but one of the school’s staffing vacancies for next year. She noted that the school recently hired a new first-grade teacher as well as a kindergarten teacher who had been filling in as a substitute.

Perkins presented the DRA test results assessing reading levels for grades 1-3.  The results show that each grade is progressing as a whole. For DRA results, the board’s finance report and its budget policy, click here.

Melissa Jagers of the finance committee reported a loss for the month (see link above), which was expected as the school writes off unpaid tuition for the “Explorers Program.”  Perkins indicated that recent reminders to parents have brought in more payments; accordingly, another set of reminders will be distributed with upcoming report cards.

Jagers distributed the budget policy (see link above), which was completed by the finance committee in collaboration with the Eastbank Collaborative of Charter Schools. The board reviewed and approved the document, with two small changes.

The board adjourned the 50-minute meeting at 6 p.m. before going into a brief executive session to discuss a legal matter.

In addition to Perkins, Weishaupt and Jagers, board members present included Jolene Jeff, Wanda Guillaume, Belinda Cambre and Jennifer Weishaupt.  Board members Aesha Rasheed and Adrienne Shulman were absent.